Zach Wilson looks decent, and therefore much improved, while Dorian Thompson-Robinson impresses

It might be years before we see Zach Wilson starting real NFL games again. The former New York Jets of the future is now Aaron Rodgers’ backup, and Rodgers has no plans to leave anytime soon.

Wilson’s development isn’t a total non-factor for the Jets, though, and he got a chance to show his talents on Thursday in the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game preseason opener.

Handed the ball for the first three offensive series for the Jets, Wilson went 3-for-5 for 65 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 21-16 Browns win. He got 57 of those yards on one play, an on-target bomb to Malik Taylor to set up a Jets field goal.

«It was really good. I thought he put it right on the money. Zach did a good job. He was poised, looked comfortable in the pocket, delivered the ball on schedule. It was definitely something to build on,» Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after the game.

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What does it mean for Wilson to hit a long pass against the Browns’ backups? Not much. He has looked solid in preseasons before, and we all know how that worked out: Wilson was so bad last season, with 1,688 passing yards, six touchdowns, seven interceptions and 7 yards per attempt, that the Jets went out and got Rodgers.

Wilson took the demotion with about as much self-awareness as you could want from a No. 2 overall draft pick, outright admitting he didn’t play well, and now his career could still go multiple ways. Rodgers has said he plans for his Jets career to be a «few-years partnership,» so Wilson could stick around and try to get first dibs on the starting job. He would probably be in his late 20s by then, but there have been weirder paths to success as NFL quarterback.

The Jets are faintly hopeful Rodgers could help Wilson reboot. At this point, there would be little value in trading him, so they can keep him around and see what he does in backup duty and with opportunities like Thursday. It’s a low-percentage opportunity, but plays like the above can keep the dream alive.

Browns’ Dorian Thompson-Robinson impresses

Thursday’s game saw Kellen Mond start opposite Wilson for the Browns, going 13-for-19 with 92 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. The team’s biggest highlight might have come via its other quarterback, 2023 fifth-round draft pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and it wasn’t a pass or a run.

Thompson-Robinson threw down a wild block on an option run touchdown in the third quarter:

That touchdown came a few minutes before the game ground to a halt when the lights went out at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. It took several minutes to get the game started again.

The blackout didn’t stop Thompson-Robinson though, as he led another touchdown drive and capped it off with a 22-yard pass to Austin Watkins Jr. to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

Thompson Robinson, a two-time All-Pac-12 second-teamer at UCLA, finished the game 8-for-11 with 82 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions, plus 37 rushing yards on five attempts. He is competing with Joshua Dobbs and Mond for snaps behind Deshaun Watson this season.


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